Bharwan Karela / Stuffed Bitter Gourd

This is one famous dish from my Mom’s kitchen. She’s a wonderful cook and I am still learning from her. Everyone in our family and friends loves it (sometimes even those who hate karela). 

Course: Main Course

Cuisine: North Indian

Time: Preparation – 10 mins, Soaking – 2 hours, Cooking – 30 mins, Total – 2.40 hours

Servings: 3-4


  1. Karela (Bitter Gourd) – 4 medium size
  2. Onions – 4 medium size (grated)
  3. Raw Mango (kacha aam) – 1 small (grated)
  4. Green Chilli – 2 (finely chopped)
  5. Fennel Seed – 2 tsp (crushed or grind)
  6. Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
  7. Red Chilli powder – 1/2 tsp
  8. Coriander powder – 1 tsp
  9. Garam Masala powder – 1/2 tsp
  10. Sugar – 1 tsp
  11. Mustard oil – 3 tbsp (you can use olive or refined oil)
  12. Salt to taste
  13. Thread – to tie the bitter gourds

How to make Bharwan Karela or Stuffed Bitter Gourd:

  1. Wash the bitter gourd. Chop a little from both the ends. Peel it a little thick with the help of a knife (not peeler). Keep the peel aside
  2. Slit the bitter gourd from the center and take out all the seeds with the help of your fingers. It should remain intact
  3. Now add 2 tbsp of salt on the bitter gourd and it’s peel. Mix well. Keep it soaked in salt for at least 2 hours. It helps in removing the bitter taste from it
  4. Now wash the bitter gourd and it’s peel thoroughly so that no salt is left. Separate the peel from it. Keep it aside
  5. Heat 2 tbsp mustard oil in a kadai or a pan. Let it smoke for a minute. Then turn the flame to medium and add a pinch of salt, it helps in removing the mustard oil aroma
  6. Add the bitter gourd peel. Saute for 2 mins on medium flame
  7. Add grated onions and green chillies. Saute and cook for 2-3 mins
  8. Add spices – turmeric powder, red chilli powder, garam masala powder and coriander powder. Cook till onions are golden brown
  9. Add crushed fennel seeds, raw mango, sugar and salt. Cook for 4-5 mins
  10. Turn off the flame and let it cool. Your stuffing is ready
  11. Now take the bitter gourds and stuff them with the help of a small spoon. Take the thread and roll it around the bitter gourd a few times and tie a single knot in the end. Keep aside the remaining stuffing (if left)
  12. Heat 1 tbsp mustard oil in a kadai or a pan in the similar way as above
  13. Add stuffed bitter gourds and turn from all the sides so that they’re oiled
  14. Cover and cook on low flame till bitter gourd is soft and cooked
  15. Keep turning in between so that it’s crispy from all the sides
  16. Now add the remaining stuffing to the pan. Cook for 2-3 mins. Keep sauteing
  17. Your Bharwan Karela or Stuffed Bitter Gourd is ready. Remove the thread before serving
  18. Serve hot with Phulkas, Parathas or Daal Chawaal.

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